Harvard's Katie Benzan is espnW's player of the week

Junior guard Katie Benzan, who had 19 points, 10 assists and four rebounds Sunday as Harvard upset No. 14 Cal, is the espnW player of the week. Gil Talbot

Editor's note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW's national player of the week, which is awarded every week of the women's college basketball season.

It was almost 21 years ago that Harvard beat a Pac-12 team, back when the league was still the Pac-10. Harvard junior point guard Katie Benzan, of course, has no memory of that win, but she's no doubt heard of it: The Crimson upset Stanford in the opening round of the 1998 NCAA tournament, the only time a No. 16 seed has defeated a No. 1 seed on the women's side. (The only time that's happened on the men's side was last season, with UMBC beating Virginia.)

Harvard's 85-79 victory over No. 14 Cal on Sunday won't have the historical relevance of the Crimson's famous defeat of Stanford, but it's still a great win. According to Harvard athletics, it's also the Crimson's first victory against a ranked team since that win over Stanford. Benzan, who led the way Sunday with 19 points, 10 assists and four rebounds, is the espnW national player of the week.

Benzan's assist total tied her career high. She shot 6 of 13 from the field and 5 of 11 from 3-point range against the Bears. The Crimson's ability to hit from long range -- they were 13 of 24 -- was a big factor in the upset. But this win didn't seem like a fluke; Harvard led for most of the game. Even when it looked like the Bears had taken control about midway through the fourth quarter, the Crimson rallied. Harvard outscored Cal 8-1 over the final minute to secure the victory.

Benzan also had 13 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals in Harvard's 80-47 victory at Rhode Island on Friday. Harvard, which began the season with a loss to then-No. 1 Notre Dame and at one point was 4-6, now has won three in a row and goes into Ivy League play at 7-6. The Crimson don't play again until Jan. 19 against Dartmouth.

Harvard was picked to finish third in the Ivy League behind Princeton and Penn. Last season, the Crimson finished third in the Ivy at 10-4 (18-11 overall) and played in the WNIT. Harvard brought back four of its five leading scorers from that team, including Benzan, who was a first-team all-Ivy League selection as a freshman and sophomore.

Benzan is from Wellesley, Massachusetts, and was the state's Gatorade Player of the Year in high school. Last season, she shot 45 percent from 3-point range. She's at 38.1 percent from long range this year and is averaging a career-best 14.8 points and 5.0 assists.

Katie's older brother, Patrick Benzan, is a senior guard at Holy Cross, which is where their mother, Kim Kelley Benzan, played basketball from 1983-87.

Also nominated: Crystal Allen, Mississippi; Jenna Allen, Michigan State; Nia Clouden, Michigan State; Reyna Frost, Central Michigan; Jessica George, Massachusetts; Brooke Kissinger, Creighton; Aarion McDonald, Arizona; Michaela Onyenwere, UCLA; Ali Patberg, Indiana

Previous winners: Kristine Anigwe, Cal (Nov. 12) | Kierra Anthony, Louisiana Tech (Nov. 19) | Jackie Young, Notre Dame (Nov. 26) | Christyn Williams, UConn (Dec. 3) | Jenna Allen, Michigan State (Dec. 10) | Alanna Smith, Stanford (Dec. 17) | Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon (Dec. 24)